Posted by Craige McWhirter on
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by Bob Woodward

Fear: Trump in the White House

If you suffer from anxiety about what's happening in the world and the competence of those in power, this is probably not the book for you. Bob Woodward's book shows in startling detail just how inadequate, incompetent and immature not only the President of the USA is but also most of the team that he had/has around him.

I didn't takes notes as I read this book and it really needs it. There's so much going on that its difficult to know where to begin. I can understand why Bob wrote this in a pretty much chronological fashion. There's one quote that stands out from Dowd, Trump's personal lawyer, the man that I came away with feeling had Trump's best interests at heart more than anyone else:

But in the man and his presidency Dowd had seen the tragic flaw. In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying "Fake News," the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the president:

"You're a fucking liar."

The primary feeling I was left with after reading this book was arrested development. This phrase best describes for me the behaviour of most of the people in involved in this tale. They just are not mature adults with a steady hand.

It's a phrase I've also come to associate with Australian politicians like Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer... I'll stop there, it could be long list and there are not many Australian politicians that I could leave off that list sadly.

The kind of people who put their own narrow interests or the interests of their base or more importantly, donors, ahead of clear eyed long term national interests. The public rightly becomes disengaged with politics which leads to our politicians being drawn from an increasingly shallow pool of staffers and cronies, which leads to increased public disengagement, which further shrinks the pool from which our politicians are drawn.

It's a vicious loop that Wolfgang Streek expounds upon quite well in How Will Capitalism End? : Essays On A Failing System , a highly recommended read that looks deeply into and explains the socio-political problems of the modern era.

The secondary feeling I'm left with is just how broken "western" democracy truly is (I've argued at times that we do not actually live in a genuine democracy, just because we get to vote).

Clearly, in "western" nations across the world, politicians are not rising into power based on any form of merit or competency. More and more politicians in the USA, UK and Australia are coming into power despite their clearly displayed inadequacy, in spite of their arrested development, they are wielding power and being voted in by a jaded and disengaged public.

I've got no clear answer for you, only more questions.

Increasing broader community participation in politics is one, albeit unlikely solution (although the recent success of socialists in the US mid-terms show it can be done).

Another is to completely change the nature of our Democracy so that it functions as advertised but you first need to remove those in power with vested interests in the status quo.

So, this was a book review. Fantastic, insightful and frightening. Well worth a read.